27 Feb 2016
Parrie Haynes Equestrian Ranch, TX
A last minute decision: a comp entry, a free ride, a friend with a 6-pack, and an open day... all pushed me in the same direction to go here and run this... so I did. Pam picked me up at 6am. The race started at 7am, It was an hour drive, and we only missed one turn. So, I started at the correct time with the other marathoners. There was a guy who had an external stereo blasting out of his pack at the start, so my only goal was to avoid his noise. If he was fast, I'd run slow. If he was slow, I'd run fast. Unfortunately for me, he started slow, so I pushed ahead with a strong desire to stay ahead of the noise.
Loop 1 was flat and boring, but did begin with a short slog through a huge mud hole. It was fairly nondescript route of jeep roads & wide tracks that looped about without much of a ripple. About 6 miles til we were right back at the same place we started. Being partial to rough and variable terrain, too much flat and boring drives me mad, so I was hoping the rest of the course was not the same..
Loop 2 was much more entertaining. Water crossings dominated. After a few strait across crossings, I was amused by one that turned and went up the middle of a wide creek fro 50 yards. After a mile long loop, we doubled back and reversed back up the same creek. If I intended to loose the sheriff, I suspect this would do the trick. By now, all the races had started and all runners were on the course, and I couldnt tell who was running what. We had been given colored wrist bands, but it was cool enough that many people had them covered up with long sleeve shirts.
Loop 3 was another entirely new section again. About 7 miles of fenceline and jeep road that was easy enough going out, except for one fun climb, The return was mostly jeep road, but for a bit of bush-whack that was not quite a trail yet. Lots of rocks to kick, and because the trail had not formed yet, I had to stop a few times to think about the intended route. It was ok, and I could see where this could become a fun trail with some use. There was just 1 water crossing going out and another one coming back on the same creek. The day had become much warmer so it felt good to stop for a moment just to stand in the cold stream. When I finally finished loop 3, the winners were already done, and had been for over an hour. Steven Moore was on the massage table but had time to tell me to hurry up.
Loop 4 was the final loop. I took a short break for a sip of beer before returning to the course. The final loop was on a lot of the same set of trails we had run on the first loop, but more in a backwards direction. They must have gone back out and remarked it, using the loop 1 section in a different way. It was disorienting in an odd sort of way. I had only been here once and that was just a few hours ago, so I kind-of knew it, but in a very unfamiliar way. I felt more lost in here than if I had not known it at all, with the loops and round-abouts, and seeing the same people at different places here and again. I never lost the trail, but had no idea where I was or where I was going. My GPS was off as well, so I wasnt sure on distance at this point for reference. I had no idea I was even close to done until I was looking at the finish.
It was an interesting race, marked well, and a fun venue, so I did enjoy it. Might have felt better had I not mountain biked the last 2 days exploring Pedernales Park and Flat Creek Crossing for some 8 hours, as well as the 2 hour Thursday evening run at Stairway to Hell. I came into the race trashed and left even worse. Its not like I was planning to run, but I'm glad I did.